All Navy Exchange barbershops and beauty salons are the globe are ordered to shut down on Monday, in response to the spread of COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus.

“To ensure U.S. Navy recruits continue to have access to haircuts,” the lone exception to the rule will be the barber shop located at Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, Illinois, a Navy release said.

Affected Navy Exchange Command employees will be placed on a two-week period of administrative leave with pay.

“At NEXCOM, we will continue to strictly follow all guidance set forth by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for the safety and care of our patrons and associates alike,” retired Rear Adm. Robert J. Bianchi, chief executive officer of NEXCOM, said in the release.

“Therefore, based on the close-proximity amid the shops’ working conditions and the recent NAVADMIN, I believe that this will help ensure recommended social distancing standards and protect our Sailors, civilians, NEX associates, and their families.”

The Navy’s decision to shut down its barber shops follows a service-wide directive last week to relax its grooming standards in an effort to increase social distancing and slow the spread of COVID-19.

“Relaxed hair length grooming standards will only apply to the area of the scalp” to allow for “additional hair length and bulk on the sides, top and back of the head,” the service said in a release last week. “At no time will relaxed grooming interfere with the proper wearing of Navy head gear proper use of protective personal equipment (helmets, masks, hoods, etc.).”

Navy officials also confirmed a service-wide directive Friday that mandates commands across the fleet take every possible measure to avoid large formations.

Unit leadership has been instructed to “remain out of congregate settings, avoid mass gatherings and maintain six feet or two-meter distance from others when possible,” Lt. James Adams, U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesperson, told Navy Times.

The Navy Exchange’s decision to close its barber shops and salons is expected to remain in effect for at least the next two weeks, “or until further notice,” the release said.

“NEXCOM is committed to taking every measure possible to protect the health of our force, their families, and our patrons.”

Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.

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